Marika Washchyshyn spoke to the CFL on TSN panelists about the numbers they wore throughout their football careers and the story behind their choice. Here’s part of her interview with Duane Forde.
Did you choose your first number?
Duane Forde (DF): When I was in grade nine, we had a limited choice of numbers based on our positions. That year, I was a defensive back so I had to choose from a random selection of numbers between ten and nineteen. I chose nineteen.
What was the reasoning for wearing number 34?
DF: During my grade nine year, my favourite college football player, running back Herschel Walker from the University of Georgia, won the Heisman Trophy. Later that year, he turned pro with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and I got to see him play in person on a family March Break trip to New York City. The next year, I moved to running back and chose number thirty-four, which I would wear for the rest of my high school and university careers.
In the CFL, I couldn’t get number thirty-four for my first three years because it was already taken by players with more seniority, but I wore it from 1994 to 2000, with Toronto and Calgary.
What’s your all-time favourite CFL number?
DF: There are two players and numbers that are really etched in my mind from my career.
One would be my former Calgary teammate, number eighteen, Allen Pitts. As teammates for seven years, I watched how hard Allen worked in practice and in the film room day-in and day-out and also saw the dividends that his hard work paid on game day.
The other number of significance or me is number thirty-seven Warren Hudson. Growing up watching the Toronto Argonauts, I had seen Warren play a lot and watched as he transformed himself from a junior football linebacker into one of the CFL’s best fullbacks. As a pure blocking back, he was the player to whom I was most often compared during my career and I chose to wear his number thirty-seven in three of my seasons when number thirty-four was unavailable.